The historic Kimble course, where racing has taken place for over 100 years, is best known for its Easter Saturday meeting and the November fixture is new. Organisers should be congratulated for their bold decision to request an early season date, which has resulted in 104 entries in the seven races, which start at 11.00am. Clerk of the Course Stewart Nash confirmed on Sunday afternoon that the going is now Good, Good to Soft in places after eight millimetres of overnight rain followed by a bright and breezy day. The course has taken the rain well and the weather forecast for the coming week is for a spell of light rain on Tuesday followed by heavier rain on Thursday. The going report will be updated again after the Course Inspector visits on Wednesday afternoon.
Please note that this meeting has been graded as Level 4 Covid Prevention Status. This means that the fixture will be taking place behind closed doors and that there will be no public admission. In order to attend, all Participants and Owners must pre-register their details using the E-Ticket Registration no later than noon on the Friday prior to the fixture.
Organisers have confirmed that live streaming will be taking place, with Luke Harvey presenting and commentary from Gareth Topham. More details – including the web link to follow the streaming – will be posted on the PPRC website and on the Pointing Forum during the week.
Owners and Keepers should also note that – unlike the first two fixtures of the season – Kimble is trialling the Level 1-3 System for Declarations. This means that the Declarations form will need to be completed in advance and handed-in to the Declarations team on arrival. There will be no forms at the course and no gathering near the Declarations tent.
Aston Rowant trainer Alan Hill has a fine record at one of his local tracks and he is responsible for ten entries (at least one per race), all of which are intended runners, including Changeofluck who is one of nine in the Skinners Ladies Open, the centrepiece of the card. "He's in awesome form," Alan told me. "His best performance was at Ampton last time out, which was the first time he'd carried just eleven stone. He's not very big, so a lower weight helps, and he's won here before. Izzie Marshall will ride."
Joe O'Shea was thwarted in his bid to take Ravished to Maisemore Park last weekend but has entered the 11-year-old again. Ravished, a wide margin winner on his Cottenham reappearance last year, was subsequently beaten at Larkhill by Southfield Theatre and could renew rivalry with Sara Bradstock's charge again on Sunday. If they take each other on, a cracking contest looks in-store.
Alan Hill is likely to rely on Clondaw Westie in the 13-entry Mens Open run over two-and-a-half miles, which is sponsored by him and his wife Lawney. Alan said of the nine-year-old, a Ffos Las Hunter Chase winner on his last start and the clear top-rated horse in the field, "We've sent him pointing as he's badly handicapped under rules and the aim is the Aintree Foxhunters for a new bunch of owners. James King won on him last time and will ride again and the trip will suit."
Mel Rowley, who has enjoyed such a cracking start to the season with five winners over the first weekend, will be having her first runners at Kimble and told me, "Undisputed schooled well this morning and will probably run if it's not too soft." The nine-year-old mare won both her starts last season.
Joe O'Shea has entered Irish Anthem, but the 12-year old did not show his best form last season, while a potential dark horse is Will Biddick's Porlock Bay – not Luke Harvey's beloved 'Cecil' but a French-bred of the same name who has winning hurdles form across the channel.
The Baileys and the Old Rectory Conditions Race – restricted to South Midlands qualified horses - opens the card and has attracted 14 entries. This looks a fiercely competitive race and most of the field are close together on ratings. Top of the list is Mary Vesey's Marten, who finished last season with a close second in a Horseheath Open, while Peter Mason's Bastien is an interesting recruit from rules racing, where he had winning form for Alan King.
Alan Hill intends to run the enigmatic Hawkhurst, saying, "Nothing went right last season so we've changed a few things this year. He's really suited by our new deep sand gallop and is in very good form at home."
"He's been an absolute star," enthused Fran Nimmo of Summer Sounds. "He's won ten races and owes us nothing. He seems in great form at home and I took him novice team chasing recently."
Tom Ellis admits that General Arrow was disappointing last season, saying, "He was promising two years ago – winning three and beating Law Of Gold – but has had issues since. He seems in good from at home now and ought to be bang on, and I'll be delighted if he finishes in the frame, as it's a competitive race."
South Midlands trainers Tom and Gina Ellis (G&T Racing) and Charlie and Francesca Poste sponsor the Novice Riders race and have been rewarded with ten entries, although neither yard has a runner of their own.
Alan Hill has both Mahlers Star for farrier John Simpson and Sir Mangan, who was second to Clondaw Westie in the aforementioned Ffos Las race. "Ben Sutton rides again and, if 'Westie' wins, he's got to have a shout, hasn't he?" asked Alan rhetorically. "Ben's been working in the yard over the summer and it's done him the world of good."
Other than the Hill horses, Storm Lantern looks to have the best chance on form although look out too for the ex-Alex Hales Indian Native and Spanish Arch – trainer-rider Victoria Sollitt's Roc D'Apsis ran a cracking race at the weekend. Finally, pointing debutant No Trumps has an interesting background, having won two hurdles for Charlie Longsdon when owned by Her Majesty The Queen!
Alan Hill intends to run both his own Ringa Ding Ding and Niftyfifty, owned by Clerk of the Course Stewart Nash, in the Duhallow Hunt Club Ireland Maiden for six-year-olds and over, which has 30 entries and may be divided on the day. "Niftyfifty was going well on his only run last year when his soft palate slipped, so he had an operation straightaway and will hopefully improve. Tommie O'Brien's been schooling him and will ride," confirmed Alan.
Mel Rowley – who doesn't have many older maidens – may run both her entries, the ex-rules Banana Joe and I Will Follow Her, who hasn't run since pulling up at Cottenham. "She was wrong that day," Mel told me. "She'd been a good second in a bumper before that."
Fran Nimmo also confirmed that she plans to run all her three entries should the race split and gave me a brief rundown on her hopes. "Kilrane Road disappointed first time out and has took a while to acclimatise but is going better now, Dr Time came from Tom Symonds and I'm sure we're going to have fun with him and Vamanos boiled over at Ampton so may run with a hood – he was rated 108 under rules and could win if everything clicks."
Tom Ellis has a likely candidate in Killinkere. "We bought him at Doncaster from Gordon Elliott after Gordon steered us in his direction," said Tom. "His form's OK and I really like him at home and he should be a nice horse for the Ice and a Slice Racing Club, who had Fumet D'Oudairies last year."
Tom pointed out that the main danger on form looks to be Wykham, who looks the prime candidate based on his Larkhill second in March, although Robert Waley-Cohen may run Maitree Express instead. Karen Lawther's One More Life has useful form between the flags in Ireland, Sarah Case's Levasseur showed form under rules for husband Ben and ex-Irish Ballymac Boy cannot be ruled out for the shrewd Joe O'Shea.
The second Maiden on the card is for four- and five-year-olds only and sponsored by Tattersalls Cheltenham, run over two-and-a-half miles. Among the 12 entries are another pair from Alan Hill's yard, twice placed Hop N Skip and newcomer Salt Of The Earth, part owned by Chris Harris, who is helping sponsor the meeting. "He's a lovely big baby who came within a couple of weeks of a run last year. The course will suit and he's pleased in his work," was Alan's verdict.
Mel Rowley relies on Ahoy Senor, who unseated at Didmarton on his debut in March. "That was a bad day for him," she admitted, "But he's a nice horse and will have come on for the run."
Fran Nimmo would not be drawn on plans for her three entries, other than advising that only one would run, but Tom Ellis was more forthcoming about newcomer No Word of a Lie, jointly owned by his mother and mother-in-law! "He's a gorgeous four-year-old, a half-brother to Grade One winner Lieutenant Colonel and Jack (Andrews) thinks the world of him," laughed Tom. "He's a sales prospect and will run unless the ground's too soft."
Gade Property Developments sponsor the closing Intermediate race, which has 16 entries. One of them is Tim Underwood's Miss Massey, and her ebullient owner-trainer told me, "She's very well in herself – bouncing – and her Didmarton form was franked at the weekend."
Alan Hill's representative here will be Normofthenorth, with Izzie Marshall in the plate. "He won last year at Higham then was beaten by a good horse at Ampton, where he didn't get the run of the race," Alan concluded in the rundown of his entries.
Fran Nimmo runs new inmate Spring Cover. "He's owned and ridden by Toby Steele, who works for Olly Murphy," she confirmed. "He goes nicely at home and should give Toby some fun."
Julie Wadland is in form with a winner at the weekend and her Golden Rebel is on the upgrade, as is Fran Marriott's Cocklebarrow winner Pomme De Nuit, while the talented but lightly-raced Benefit Of Luck has a chance if running here rather than the opener. However, the South Midlands horses will have their work cut out to beat two raiders from further afield – Joe O'Shea's Mr Snuffles and Ben Clarke's The Galloping Bear both come have after a hat-trick last season and are the top two rated, although both would carry a penalty, having already scored in this grade.
Kimble is a flat, left-handed stayers course of 3m1f and about 38yds, with portable island fences of average size and build. It is located five miles south of Aylesbury off the B4009, six miles from the A41. HP17 8TB.